Encouraging a "Diverse" Diet can Backfire

This article has been republished from materials provided by the American Heart Association. Marcia C.de Oliveira Otto, lead author of the latest advisory, says that could be a big problem.

Instead, the AHA recommended people aim for adequate intake of healthier foods, focusing on a high-quality diet of plants, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, vegetable oils, and nuts to lower disease risk, reflected by the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.

"We looked at all the evidence that was out there and saw a link between dietary diversity and a greater intake of both healthy and unhealthy foods", said Otto, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center's School of Public Health in Houston.

There is some evidence that a wider choice of food options in the food can delay the feeling of satisfaction from a sense of saturation. "This raised some red flags and had implications on obesity - we saw a greater prevalence of obesity amongst people with a greater dietary diversity".

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"The longstanding American public health recommendation to "eat a variety of foods" was introduced last century in response to widespread nutrient deficiencies, particularly in low-income countries with limited access to nutritious foods", said Otto. While some dietary guidelines highlight greater diversity of recommended foods, there is little consensus about what so-called dietary diversity is, how it is measured and whether it is a healthy dietary goal.

The authors, who thoroughly studied numerous articles published over almost two decades, said they actually found there may be a link between food diversity and lower diet quality, as well as excess food intake, Medical Daily reported. It concludes that the majority of evidence does not support the notion that dietary diversity is an effective way to promote healthy eating habits and a healthy body weight.

Writing in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, scientists said that a review of all of the current evidence suggested no nutritional benefits to a varied diet, and some evidence of harm.

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